The neuropeptides kisspeptin, neurokinin B, and dynorphin A (collectively abbreviated as KNDy) are, respectively, encoded by KiSS-1, NKB, and PDYN and are coexpressed by neurons of the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC). Here, using quantitative real-time PCR, we examined age-related changes in the expression of genes encoding KNDy and associated receptors G protein-coupled receptor 54 (encoded by GPR54), neurokinin 3 receptor (encoded by NK3), and κ-opioid receptor (encoded by KOR), in the female rhesus macaque ARC-median eminence (ARC-ME). Expression of KiSS-1 and NKB was highly elevated in old perimenopausal compared with young or middle-aged premenopausal animals. To test whether these age-related changes could be attributed to perimenopausal loss of sex steroids, we then examined KNDy, GPR54, NK3, and KOR expression changes in response to ovariectomy (OVX) and exposure to 17β-estradiol (E2). Short-term (7 months) OVX (with or without 1 month of estrogen replacement) failed to modulate the expression of any of the KNDy-related genes. In contrast, long-term (∼4 yr) OVX significantly increased KiSS-1 and NKB expression, and this was reversed by E2 administration. Finally, we examined the expression of KNDy-related genes in young adult females during the early follicular, late follicular, or midluteal phases of their menstrual cycle but found no difference. Together, the results suggest that short-term alterations in circulating E2 levels, such as those occurring during the menstrual cycle, may have little effect on the ARC-ME expression of KNDy and associated receptors. Nevertheless, they clearly demonstrate that loss of ovarian steroid negative feedback that occurs during perimenopause plays a major role in modulating the activity of KNDy circuits of the aging primate ARC-ME.
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